Less smoking is helping us all breathe easier

Since 2006, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act has been making our province a better place to breathe. Smoking rates have never been lower. More people are quitting, more are being protected from exposure to second-hand smoke and children and teens are deciding they’ll never start smoking.

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act – a good time to remember that policies designed to combat nicotine addiction are not only good for our health, they’re good for our wealth too.

A new study by the Institute of Clinical Evaluative Sciences finds that reducing unhealthy behaviours such as smoking, unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption and physical inactivity has saved the province almost $5 billion in health-care costs over the past decade. A staggering 90 per cent of that amount ($4.4 billion) was driven by successful smoking cessation efforts.

“By giving legislative force to the policies, programs and public education initiatives of the Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act has helped to drive a decade of progress in reducing the harm caused by tobacco use,” said George Habib, president and CEO of the Ontario Lung Association.

“Notwithstanding the success of these initiatives, smoking is still the number one cause of preventable illness and death in Ontario,” said Habib. “That is why we must continue to press for stronger anti-tobacco legislation and more support for people who want to overcome their addiction to nicotine.

“Ensuring that every person who wants to quit has access to counselling and proven over-the-counter and prescription medications will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs to the Ontario economy.”

Here are some important milestones marking 10 years of success for the Smoke Free Ontario Act.


Ontario’s $50 million investment in anti-tobacco programs is biggest in its history.



The Smoke-Free Ontario Act comes into force on World No Tobacco Day. Smoking is no longer permitted in workplaces and indoor public spaces, protecting millions from exposure to second-hand smoke.



Powerwalls come tumbling down as displays of tobacco products in stores are prohibited.



Children can breathe easily in the family car as smoking is banned in vehicles with passengers under 16.



Years of youth advocacy pays off as the sale of flavoured cigarillos, kiddie packs and singles is outlawed.



A price signal is sent as the provincial tax on cigarettes goes up by $3.25 a carton.



No Smoking signs go up on bar and restaurant patios, playgrounds and public sports fields, widening protection against exposure to second-hand smoke.



The new Making Healthy Choices Act includes a ban on all flavoured tobacco, including menthol.


For information about quitting smoking or any other lung health issue, call The Lung Association Lung Health Information Line at 1-888-344-LUNG (5864) or email info@on.lung.ca